Restorative justice is an active endeavor that calls for community-level commitment to repair the harm experienced by victims and reimagine systems of accountability for offenders. It acknowledges the humanity of all individuals and necessitates restoring relationships in bringing about justice. Practicing restorative justice may challenge the status quo, but it is something Illinois is capable of and must prioritize. That’s why I have engaged in leadership and legislation that promotes restorative justice in our communities like those mentioned below.
I am honored to serve as the Chair of the Restorative Justice Committee in the Illinois General Assembly. Just most recently in the 102nd General Assembly, I have sponsored legislation that supports victims and amends systems that violate rather than restore community relationships. These include bills such as HB5441, which fortified conditions for knowing consent in order to support victims of sexual assault and address inadequacies in the Illinois Criminal Code. Additionally, I sponsored bills that challenged the systems that perpetuate harm, such as the institutional roles in violence against Chicago women, as well as punishment procedures in Illinois schools.
Confidentiality of Statements Made to Rape Crisis Personnel
I was proud to serve as chief co-sponsor of this bill, which amends the Evidence Article of the Code of Civil Procedure. The amendment expands the definition of “rape crisis organization” to further protect victims of rape from public disclosure of statements they make in confidence to counselors or organizations established to help them. Protections like these are crucial, given crimes involving rape often result in fear and stigma that can prevent victims from seeking help where it is available at no cost to them.
Cannabis & Felony Expungement
HB4392 amends the Criminal Identification Act to protect the right to petition for felony expungement or sealing for people who have tested positive for the presence of cannabis in drug testing within the 30 days prior to filing a petition. Illinois has legalized cannabis and should not continue to penalize users of a legal product
Task Force on Missing & Murdered Chicago Women Act
Always in mind is community activist Elise Malary, and too many other Chicago women, who were failed by negligible and insincere responses to recurring violence. HB3988 creates the Task Force on Missing and Murdered Chicago Women with the mandate to examine the systemic causes of violence against Chicago women and girls, establish means to track and quantify this violence, and scrutinize the societal and institutional factors that impact both the incidence and prosecution of violence against Chicago women.
Rethinking School Interventions
This bill amends the School Code to permit the State Board of Education to create a grant program for school districts and special education facilities that promote positive behavioral interventions and culturally sensitive, restorative approaches to punishment. It prioritizes funding to institutions that submit a plan to significantly reduce or eliminate harsh punishments such as physical restraint and isolated time out.
Rights of Sexual Assault Survivors
HB5441 expands the conditions of “unable to give knowing consent” to instances where the victim is voluntarily intoxicated and unable to be conscious to the nature of the act. Previously, offenders could only be held responsible if they had provided the intoxicating substance to the survivor. This was a senseless loophole that needed to be closed. As sponsors, we proudly sought the collaboration of the remarkable woman who inspired this legislation to strengthen the protections afforded to survivors of sexual assault.
Practicing Restorative Justice
This amendment to the Code of Civil Procedure ensures the privilege of communications in restorative justice proceedings. This bill effectively encourages restorative justice practices and marks a meaningful effort at rebricking the Illinois criminal justice system and exercising restorative justice fundamentals in our courts.